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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2001 Jun;22(2):207-10.

Unexpected childhood death due to a rare complication of ventriculoperitoneal shunting.

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Forensic Science Centre, Adelaide, Australia.


A 10-year-old boy with Arnold-Chiari malformation, spina bifida, and a ventriculoperitoneal shunt for hydrocephalus died unexpectedly, having appeared to be only mildly unwell with fever on the night before death. At autopsy, the shunt was partially obstructed with an associated enterococcal meningitis. The tip of the shunt was located within the transverse colon, which was embedded in a mass of fibrous adhesions resulting from previous abdominal surgery. Blood cultures were sterile. Intestinal perforation is a rare complication of ventriculoperitoneal shunting that may be associated with the development of meningitis and unexpected death. The autopsy assessment of children with such indwelling devices requires examination of the functional state of the shunt, full septic workup, and determination of the precise location of the tip of the catheter within the peritoneal cavity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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